Last week in H2H Categories Strategy we discussed the merits of punting. This week, I want to talk about what I look for in hitters once we get past the early rounds – consistency. Since we play a game that resets every week, we want to roster players that will fluctuate less. Hot and cold streaks will happen even with the best players, but there are certain qualities we can look for in hitters that should minimize our risk.

Growing up, my dad was the coach of my little league team. He would tell us, get on base and good things will happen. While it seems really simplistic, I still follow my dad’s advice when I’m looking for consistent hitters – high contact rates and a low K-BB%. Basically, we’re looking for players with good plate skills. These might not be the sexiest names in the draft, but grabbing a handful of these players in the mid to late rounds will provide your team with an ample floor. Without further ado, let’s get to the list:

Kings of Constant (ADP 60-100)

Anthony Rizzo, 1B – 82.0% Contact%, 2.4% K-BB% – Rizzo is currently coming off the board at pick 70 in NFBC leagues. He’s been the definition of consistency, posting a 5.1% K-BB% or better each of the last five seasons. In that time he’s been a 4+ category player, even contributing steals from the first base position. Rizzo’s slated to bat second in the Cubs’ lineup and I expect more of the same moving forward.

Marcus Semien, SS – 82.9% Contact%, 2.1% K-BB% – Real talk – when I started the research for these players, I did not expect to have Semien in the same category as Rizzo. Semien’s transition into a “King of Constant” began in 2018 when he put up an 81.1% Contact%. In 2019, everything took another step forward – Contact%, O-Swing%, BB%, K%, and in case you needed a cherry on top, Hard Hit%. Semien made a bat change during spring training last year and it clearly paid dividends. With an ADP of 89, Semien makes for an super-safe mid-round pick and provides an excellent floor to your fantasy roster.

Honorable Mentions – DJ LeMahieu, Jeff McNeil

Princes of Predictability (ADP 130-180)

Michael Brantley, OF – 90.8% Contact%, 2.4% K-BB% – Brantley is such a throwback. In a league of launch angles and exit velocity, Brantley has put up five (healthy) seasons of at least a .299 average. Hate the Astros all you want, but he’s slated to hit third, in between Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman. At an ADP of 130, Brantley provides a roster stabilizer in the 11th round of a 12-team draft.

Justin Turner, 3B – 84.5% Contact%, 6.7% K-BB% – Turner has rapidly become a priority for me in the middle rounds of the draft. Honestly, I fantasize about drafting all Dodgers and Twins this year. Turner is slated to hit third in what will no doubt be a juggernaut offense. The runs and RBIs will be there and Turner will add 20+ HRs with a .290 average. Health is the only reason why Turner is being drafted in the 14th round instead of the 7-8th. A fun exercise is to use the Steamer600 projection system to see how his production would compare to the other players at the hot corner. When we sort by wRC+, Turner slots in as the ninth ranked third baseman, in between Jose Ramirez and Nolan Arenado.

Jean Segura, SS – 86.6% Contact%, 6.9% K-BB% – I wish we could just erase last year’s injury-riddled year. Per Roster Resource, he’s currently slated to lead-off for the Phillies. While there were some troublesome trends in 2019 – increased O-Swing%, decreased Z-Swing% – he still finished in the 94th percentile for Contact%. I find myself filling my MI spot with Segura so that I can swing for the fences in other spots.

Honorable Mentions – Elvis Andrus, Carlos Santana, Yuli Gurriel, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco

Dukes of Dependability (ADP 200+)

Adam Eaton, OF – 84.2% Contact%, 6.3% K-BB% – We know that steals are in high demand, so what would you think of a player that goes 15-15 with a .280 average and 100 runs scored? What would you say if he’s being drafted after pick 200? That’s what we’re looking at with Adam Eaton, who’s projected to bat second for the Nats. In 2019, Eaton managed to lower his swinging strike rate, and consequently his strikeout rate, to reach a five-year low.

Kolten Wong, 2B – 83.8% Contact%, 6.5% K-BB% – This marks back-to-back weeks for Wong making an appearance, as he was considered a later round steals target. Last year, we saw Wong take a more aggressive approach at the plate. While this led to an increased O-Swing%, his 83.8% Contact% was a career-best. Wong checks off a lot of boxes for me – plate discipline, late-round steals, projected to bat second and fills a shallow position. With an ADP of 213, I love slotting Wong in as my MI.

Daniel Murphy, 1B – 87.7% Contact%, 8.8% K-BB% – I fell hard for Murphy’s debut season in Colorado and boy did it come back to bite me. Murphy missed 22 games in April after fracturing his finger while making a diving play at first base and it just seemed to derail the hype train. Despite a down year, his contact rate remained in the 95th percentile and he still managed to bat .279. I’m buying back in on the post-hype. If we thought he “could hit .330 in Coors” last year, there’s no reason that he couldn’t do it this year at a discounted rate of pick 230.

Luis Arraez, 2B/OF – 93.3% Contact%, -1.9% K-BB% – Here’s your MVP of (cheap) plate discipline. Arraez’s contact rank placed him first amongst batters with at least 150 plate appearances in 2019. He also ranked in the top 77th percentile in O-Swing%. Unfortunately, he projects as an empty batting average contributor. There is the scenario where he wins the lead-off job, in which we could see him scoring a ton of runs in the highly-vaunted Twins offense. With an ADP of 237, I’m looking to him if I gambled on batting average early with the likes of Joey Gallo.

Tommy La Stella, 2B/3B – 89.9% Contact%, 2.5% K-BB% – I feel like people are forgetting what La Stella did in 2019 before he broke his leg fouling a pitch of it (WTF). He was in the midst of a legit breakout, smashing 16 taters (triple his previous high) while batting .295. The Angels tinkered with his batting stance and unlocked a monster. La Stella always had top-notch plate skills, but his hard-hit rate skyrocketed from 31.0% in 2018 to 43.2% in 2019. With his price pretty much free (293 ADP), Tommy Boy makes an excellent flier late in your draft.

Honorable Mentions – Yadier Molina, Joey Votto, Buster Posey

 
  1. Whampwhamp says:
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    Thanks love the H2H updates sometimes I forget everything is based on roto. Do you downgrade someone like Bryce Harper in H2H since he is so hot and cold ? His numbers last year finished great but it didn’t feel like it during the year since he has long stretches of not doing anything.

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      Oof, you went straight to my heart with Bryce.
      With Harper and other early round picks, I’ll use consistency as a tie breaker. For example, if I’m between Harper and JD Martinez, I’ll lean Martinez.

    • baller mccheese says:
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      Harper will make you go insane in H2H.

  2. baby seal says:
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    I agree with this philosophy in H2H, and feel it sometimes helps me in roto too, since H2H was where I first cut my teeth in fantasy. I do prefer roto a lot more now. But H2H is great for a home league. People stay in contention a lot longer. Don’t love how the season ends, though.

    I think injury risk is huge in H2H (also helpful to keep in mind for roto! but matters a *little* less).

    I kicked myself last year for not taking Mondesi when he fell to around pick 100 in our draft. But the guy who had him — was leading the league in steals by a wide margin all year — did not have him for the playoffs, and that hurt him tremendously.

    That’s why I don’t *love* the Turner pick here. I think he’s a lot better in roto for the same reasons you said above. Consistent and the stats will stick.

    Another thing I’d add, in H2H, the guys who steal ~8-12 bags are nowhere near as valuable as they are in roto. They can obviously start to add up if you have a bunch of them, but just getting a couple of those guys doesn’t do a whole lot for you IMO.

    This is a relatively new theory for me, so curious on your thoughts because I haven’t fully thought it out yet myself!

    As an example, Albies is a big target for me in roto this year. 2B sucks and he’s a really solid all around guy. Torres is a hard fade for me in roto, but I do love him as a player (especially as a Yankees fan). I think I’d take Torres over Albies in roto, because the homers are key in that format. (Then maybe gamble on a Robert later, since this is also a shallower league and can take that risk easier w/ the higher level of replacement on the wire.) I still have K Marte higher than Torres because of the AVG, but it’s much closer for me in H2H than it is in roto…

    What do you think about all that nonsense?

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      Totally agree with the Turner note. Should’ve taken his injury history more into account.

      Agree that 2B sucks this year. I have that group really close together with Albies leading the way. Being that he adds a handful more of SBs than the rest of the group really stands out to me. Torres is numero dos because, as you said, the pop is legit and that’s what makes him stand out from that pack. Making Marte third. the average is nice, but the counting stats lag behind Albies and Torres. That being said, with the state of 2B being what it is, I’d be happy with any of these three leaving the draft.

  3. Mark says:
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    Nice article. I believe in H2H, consistency is the key to winning but it;s just hard to find it due to injuries, career years, career lows, dips, and suckitude.

    With that said, I am in a Keeper and thinking of trading A. Riley for Senzel. Who do you think is better long term

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      Haha suckitude. Absolutely true, especially about injuries. Even if you avoid guys with chronic soft-tissue injuries, freak injuries happen all the time.

      I definitely have a preference for Senzel, mostly due to his plate discipline. Riley’s K% frightens me. Granted, he put up decent walk rates at every stop in the minors, so there is room for growth.

  4. Bill says:
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    I’m in a head to head league. 14 teams 6 keepers. Not sure if I should keep all hitters or sprinkle in a pitcher or 2.

    Stanton
    Devers
    Moncada
    Castellanos
    Robles
    Adell

    Giolito
    Corbin
    Berrios

    Those are my top 9 but I can only take 6. Who would you keep?

    • Richardo

      Richardo says:
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      Can you only keep players for a certain amount of time? or is there a benefit to keeping prospects? If not, I’m keeping Devers, Moncada, Castellanos, Giolito, Corbin. The last one comes down to Stanton or Robles. I’m slightly scared of Stanton already being injured (again), but I think that’s who I lean toward.

      Good luck!

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